According to the official March Against Monsanto website and a post from activist Kristen Jones’ Facebook page, charges have been dropped against Jones, who was arrested for “Using a Megaphone” in May during a march and rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The city reportedly has dropped the charges on Aug. 21 after Jones’ lawyer was informed that the prosecutor hadn’t looked into the case much.
Jones had been supported by the ACLU in her case, and her legal team is now working to take the city to court to eliminate the permitting process for protesting in Ann Arbor.
Currently, people who wish to protest must pay fees of up to $1,500 and get $500,000 worth of insurance according to an article from the March Against Monsanto official website. Jones has taken issue with the permit rules, saying they’re unconstitutional.
She had solicited donations for a permit at the original March but was unable to meet the high amount; the march went on anyway and saw a huge, enthusiastic turnout.
March Against Monsanto Arrest Totally Unjustified
I personally appeared at the same protest as Jones back in May and even led several chants of my own with the megaphone along with a friend of mine.
Neither of us were arrested or even looked at twice by the many cops who followed our protest and march’s route throughout downtown Ann Arbor, which ended with a rally at a nearby park.
But the police “made an example” of Jones by arresting her for a breaking an ordinance/law that is so obscure and so rarely enforced that it almost makes me laugh. Now that the charges have finally been dropped, and justifiably so, I can finally do just that.
I’ve been to countless protests in my days as a journalist (and a few as an activist including this one) both in Ann Arbor and other nearby cities and have never, ever seen someone arrested for “using an amplified sound device” as Jones was.
I even spoke with a police officer after she was arrested, saying that others were doing the same thing and wondering why no one else was arrested, and he told me they “had to arrest someone.”
Thankfully, justice was served in this case with the news of the charges being dropped. Jones’ right to protest Monsanto and the continuing, unresolved and critically important problem of GMOs infiltrating the food supply (with government help) has been upheld for the time being, but we have to stay vigilant.
You can definitely expect to see Jones at the October 12 rally in honor of World Food Day, and I will likely attend a local rally as well. Keep raising awareness, folks, and don’t be deterred by the little things like this.
To see a video of Jones’ arrest, check out this article we wrote back in May.
Photo: Nick Parisho